Greetings in the name of our blessed Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What an honor it is to be bearers of His name to a dark land! We trust you all are enjoying the Lord’s abundant blessings. I would like to bring you up to date and request your prayers for several things.
A number of people have asked about the mother of a young lady in our church (Mony) who was sick unto death. She passed away just a few days after my previous update. My daughter and I attended the funeral. What a sad time it was! We are thankful to the Lord, though, that Mony honored the Lord by helping where she could in the funeral without defiling herself with the idolatrous practices so common here. Her father didn’t even give her a hard time about it. Praise the Lord.
Cultural Note: Usually, when a mother or father dies, all sorts of worship is performed by the family of the deceased. This is so prevalent that frequently one of the first questions I get when meeting new people is, “I have heard that when a Christian’s mom or dad dies they are not allowed to ‘honor’ them. Is this true?” As you can imagine, this question is loaded. By honor, they are referring to worship in the form of burning incense. Yet they say honor. So if you don’t worship them, you are accused of dishonoring your parents after their death. It is a sort of confusing custom that is often inconsistent. Add to that the fact that there are “Christian” groups that forbid their members from crying, keeping the ashes of the deceased, keeping a picture of them in the house, attending the funeral in any way, etc. So, the question is partly justified. I had the joy of telling an older lady just the other day that it was the Lord Jesus Himself who wept at the hearing of the death of a friend.
Going back to Mony, her father has since torn down his huge altar inside his house that was primarily to worship spirits to make his wife better. He told Mony that it was “worthless.” Now, however, he is visiting spirit mediums to attempt to contact his wife even though she as passed away. Please pray for him, named Sak, that the Lord would open his eyes and that our Lord would provide an opportunity for me (or someone) to show him the Way, the Truth and the Life.
I thank the Lord for a opportunity to teach another family about the Gospel on Sunday afternoons. I met them while out visiting and they seem interested. They are all related in some way or another with each other. I don’t have names right now, but please pray for them to receive God’s Word as taught and for the Holy Spirit to convict them. I’ll try to get the names to you if I can.
There is another family that I met while out visiting that might also be interested in learning more about our Lord. The father, Chaylieng, and his wife have 7 children, the oldest of which is a 20-something. The Lord blessed to allow me to talk to them for probably 45 minutes about the Lord with nearly the entire family and several neighbors listening. Please pray that the Lord would open the door to teach them further.
As for the people in our church, I ask you to pray for Rut. I have begun teaching him English because of some problems he had at his school. Outside of the obvious benefit to him, it has allowed us to get to know each other better and for me to lead him in the way of the Lord. I trust that the Holy Spirit is leading him in His way. He has yet to be baptized, so that is on the agenda to do soon.
I am also working with Davy and Huv, whom I mentioned in our last update. Davy called on the Lord to save her, but her work as a hairdresser keeps her busy. I am working on sitting her and her husband down to discuss her being baptized. Her husband is still a mystery, as to where he stands with the Lord. Please pray for them both, and for me to have wisdom to know how the Lord would have me to help them.
Lastly, a number of you have asked about and shown concern for our son Joshua and his neck problem. This matter stands about the same as before. The next step for us is a trip to Thailand to have a pediatric orthopedist check out his neck. I ask you to pray for us to have wisdom to know when to go and that the fix would be non-surgical. I’ll try to keep you posted on this issue as well.
Thank you so much for praying for us. Please, please keep in touch. We love to hear from you!
1. The ministry of preaching and teaching Christ’s Gospel can be as unpredictable as the weather (assuming you’re not a meteorologist). From week to week, it is nearly impossible to tell how people that you have previously taught will respond to the truths you have to tell them. With that in mind, I have several “prayer projects” that I want to make (more…)
When I meet someone from another country, especially Europe, I oftentimes ask them questions about how they perceive America and Americans. I find this very interesting. Cambodians have numerous perceptions or assumptions about America and her citizens. I would like to share with you three in particular that have an effect on ministry in Cambodia, in hopes that you will find it interesting, humorous, and eye-opening. This post is the first of three installments in this series. I will examine one point per post. Just as a reminder, many of the things I will say in these posts apply just as well to many Asian and/or pagan nations, not just Cambodia. Also, these perceptions are true of many other western nations, like Canada, Britain, France, etc. OK, ready? Fasten your seat belts!
Many Cambodians think that:
All Americans are Christians.
This perception is very common. The rationale is very simple. If you put on the glasses of someone from an Asian country, you immediately see why they think this. In many Asian countries, there is a religion that is very predominant, sometimes claiming more than 95% of the population. In many ways, that religion is intertwined with the ethnic group. The statistical fact is that about 79% of Americans are “Christian.” This means that they belong to a religion within Christendom, be it Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, etc. The remaining 21% are mostly unaffiliated.
Now, we hear something like this and we laugh, because we know that the vast majority of Americans are not born again. Yes, they are part of a Christian religion, but yet void of eternal life, according to the Bible. Now, put the glasses on I mentioned above. Say you met a Cambodian on the street in the U.S. In the conversation you say, “You are from Cambodia, so you are Buddhist, right?” He replies, “Yes, I am.” You ask, “Aren’t like 95% of Cambodians Buddhist?” He replies, “Oh no! They are not real Buddhists. They are in the Buddhist religion, but they are not real Buddhists.” I would walk away scratching my head wondering what in the world the guy was talking about. Isn’t a Buddhist a Buddhist??? I mean, if you are go to the Buddhist temple, you are a Buddhist. Yet, this is how they see us many times. They do not understand that what we preach is not just a religion, but knowing the God of heaven, and is distinct from what the world calls “Christianity.” The great majority of Americans go to a church of some sort at some time during the year. They call themselves “Christian.” To the Cambodian, they are Christians. And so, this is 79% of Americans. So, looking at it from the perspective of their religion, it is easy to see how they come to this conclusion.
So, how does this practically affect the ministry of preaching and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ in Cambodia? Because Cambodians view their religion and nationality as very closely related, they sometimes consider those that believe on Christ as abandoning their people. To them, if you are Khmer you are Buddhist. If you are American you are Christian. The raw statistics back up this idea. They think that your religion and ethnic group are interrelated, just as they view their own. They don’t typically oppress those foreigners that are Christian simply because they acknowledge that in the same way that Khmers are Buddhist, foreigners are Christian. This is also true of even strict Muslim nations. It is when a Khmer becomes a Christian that problems arise. When a Khmer believes on the Lord, they are sometimes viewed as turning their back on the Khmer people, of which 95% are Buddhist, and joining with foreigners. There is a saying which is used to describe people that have become Christians: “kbat chiet,” which means “betraying one’s nation.”
This perception begets other issues as well. Consider these American things: American Idol, Britney Spears, Black Eyed Peas, Audio Adrenaline, Avatar, and the list could go on. These things are American, and therefore considered Christian, because after all, 79% of Americans are Christian. So, it is no wonder that in Cambodia and many other nations, there is a common belief that Christianity propagates all sorts of ungodliness and moral filth.
Let me give you a small example to finish. I was in a convenience store some time ago. The cashier knew me because I had been in there many times. So he asked me how many kids I had. I told him 5 and one on the way. Boy was he surprised! The reason he was surprised, he explained, was because he thought that foreigners believed it was bad to have more than 1 or 2 kids. Where in the world did he get that idea?? He probably heard that from the tree-hugging, God-hating, baby-aborting, population-controlling, atheistic infidels at UNESCO or another wacky, ultra-liberal, global, western organization. So, the assumption was that all white people believed that mess. So, combine that with the idea that white foreigners are Christian, you have a ready-made dish that says that Christianity teaches this stuff.
Now, we know that the devil has set up false Christian religions that are doing a very effective job of damning millions of souls to eternal fire. Cambodia is no exception. To a large degree these Christian religions are responsible for these perceptions, as they take the false gospel of political or social reform under the guise of Christianity. Yet, we endeavor to take the true Gospel and sound doctrine to those here and wade through the lies that the devil has used to blind men’s minds to keep them from the truth.
I have already exhausted my space for this point, yet there are so many other things to say. The next installment is very closely related to this one. So it is essential to understand this point, as it is foundational for the next. Stay tuned.